Shakespeare's work makes tour stop in Norman 

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To celebrate the 400-year anniversary of his death in 1616, William Shakespeare will go on a national tour.

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History presents First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare Monday through Jan. 30 at 2401 Chautauqua Ave. in Norman.

It showcases one of 82 original folios held by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., which houses the largest collection of First Folios known in existence.

Only 233 of an estimated 750 are known to have survived.

Events celebrating everything Bard-related are planned around the exhibition and feature hands-on activities, dramatic presentations, workshops, lectures, panel discussions and a medieval ball.

Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, now commonly referred to as The First Folio, was published in 1623, seven years after his death.

Compiled and edited by two of the author’s friends and fellow thespians, John Heminge and Henry Condell, it holds 36 of the 38 plays now agreed upon as canon.

Eighteen of those, including The Tempest, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar, were printed for the first time in this collection.

Folios were large, expensive, prestigious works sold as loose leaves. Buyers paid a bookbinder to put them together. At least four of the Folger collection folios are unbound.

To complement The First Folio, a copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio, published in 1632, also will be on display.

It comes from the University of Oklahoma’s John and Mary Nichols Rare Books and Special Collections at Bizzell Memorial Library.

“[Along with OU’s College of Arts and Sciences and Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies,] we have ultimately become the venue for a Shakespearian party for the entire month,” said Elyssa Mann of the Sam Noble Museum. “We want to bring in people of all ages, so we created all these events for families. ... It’s going to be pretty exciting.”

She said that Shakespeare can be intimidating to modern readers due to the archaic language.

“Shakespeare’s stories influenced everything we see around us,” she said.

Mann mentioned that the 1999 hit movie 10 Things I Hate About You is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is Shakespeare is everywhere and they’ve already been exposed,” she said. “So this is a great opportunity to come and learn a little more about these stories that have influenced our lives.”

All official First Folio! events are free to the public, including those scheduled during regular museum hours.

This exhibition is touring all 50 states and Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jan. 16 events

Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On launches events related to the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare exhibit 1-2 p.m. Jan. 16 in Kerr Auditorium at the museum. Kelly Damphousse, dean of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences, welcomes guests and opens discussions and presentations from professor David Anderson, who will speak on the history of The First Folio, and drama professors Tom Huston Orr and Alissa Mortimer, who will talk about how plays move from the page to the stage.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that day, the museum offers costumed drama students performing Shakespeare, as well as improvisation and activities for children, including coloring, ruff-making, costumes to try on, brass-rubbing and book making.

Though individual plays will not be performed in full, there will be an OU-led production of The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet — as in the feline of Dr. Seuss fame — 3-4 p.m. Jan. 16 at Kerr Auditorium.

“That’s going to be really cool. I’m really excited to see it myself,” Mann said. “I think we all have an idea of what it might be, but I think we’ll be really surprised when it actually happens.”

The day ends with the Medieval Fair Midwinter Ball, 6:30-10:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at the museum. The ball isn’t part of official First Folio! events, and admission is $40-$45. Learn more at medievalfair.org.

Jan. 22

Museum members and special guests are invited to a reception, short lecture and dramatic presentation 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Great Hall at the museum.

Jan. 23

A teacher training session runs 1-4 p.m. Jan. 23 in Weitzenhoffer Theatre at OU’s Fine Arts Center. It guides educators on ways to teach Shakespeare and The First Folio and why it’s important.

Jan. 26

Living Shakespeare includes a reception and panel presentation 6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in Kerr Auditorium at the museum. Topics include Medieval Shakespeare, Shakespearean opera, Shakespeare on the Yiddish stage and Shakespeare in India.

Jan. 29

A Medieval Fair Free Lecture, Is Shakespeare’s Shylock Jewish?, is 6:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Norman Public Library, 225 N. Webster Ave., in Norman.

For more information on the events surrounding the exhibition, visit cas.ou.edu/first-folio.

Print headline: Trendsetter, An exhibit featuring work by the world’s most influential writer — William Shakespeare’s First Folio! — runs through January in Norman.

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